Tag Archives: love

week four: “my goal is just to have something i say be the title of one of your blog posts.”

week four has historically been fantastic (see here and here and here), and this summer has been no exception. everything was fun, we all made some great connections with the campers, and it was the kind of week where we wished all ten of them were stayovers. just full of blessing and fun. lots of fun.

i mean, just look at these guys. they’re all studs.

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we were set up for success right from the beginning. four of those guys had been in my cabin two years ago, and were some of my favorites of all time. one was the younger brother of a close friend, and another was a camp kid that i’ve known for the past few years. four were ones i’d never met, and every single one of them was awesome.

we did tons of awesome things, like every week. a favorite was once again the minifarm. it’s always a blast seeing the tough guys get really excited about petting baby bunnies. we had a contest to see who could sound most like the pigs, and also took some time to play chicken round up. becca and katherine’s cabins were with us, and becca managed to conquer her (apparently intense) fear of… chickens. we were all very proud of her.

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this week, we brought back a favorite of mine from last year: the gentlemen games! i brought all the guys into the cabin and gathered them in a circle to relay our mission parameters. together, we decided to focus on the blazer girl cabins. we grabbed some sticky notes and markers, mentally prepared for the challenge at hand, and sprinted to the oregon territory. our cover story was that we were on a camp tree photo tour. naturally, we had to get some photos so our story was legit (also, note the ties we wore. we simply told people we were on a gentlemen’s hike).

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we plastered cabin doors with odd complements (e.g. “you’re better than apple pie. and apple pie is my favorite dessert.”), straightened lines of shoes, and organized clotheslines. most of the girls were out of their cabins, but for the last cabin we had to do all these things without being seen or heard by the ladies inside. it was intense, but we managed to accomplish our mission and sneak away unnoticed. win.

since we were working so well together, it was a great week to do the optimist challenge. we paired up with some of the blazer ladies and trekked across it, encouraging each other along the way. there are so many reasons i love this activity. it’s fun and challenging, it forces people to ask for help and encourage each other, and it creates space for leaders to step up. one of my campers had told me a little earlier in the week that he was praying for God to grow him in his leadership skills (so cool. just so cool.), and so i asked him specifically to be setting the example for encouraging his partner and having a positive attitude. he totally did, and we were all really proud of him.

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on wednesday i had the honor of being selected as a safety officer (well, batman did… and he and i are pretty close). it meant that i got a cool fluorescent vest and had the responsibility of making sure that everyone stayed safe. so later that day there was only one thing to do: take safety selfies with everyone. it was a hit. they were some of the safest pictures i’ve ever seen, to be sure.

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another reason this week rocked was that i had the chance to be in an awesome chapel. in the skit, milson keeps getting torn down by people, who tear a piece of his heart each time they hurt him. towards the end, milson starts tearing his own heart because he starts believing the things that people are saying. representing Jesus, i came in and gave him my heart. it was a cool picture of the way that Jesus took on the pain and hurt that should be ours because He loves us so much. and even when there is deep pain, we still have an anchor in our loving God.

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those two photos were taken by ben dehr, one of the camp photographers. he’s pretty awesome and you can look at all of the camp photos here. he also got some sweet pics of the firewors show (you can see them below), because of course the fourth of july happened this week. along with the fireworks show, we had a spectacular theme dinner on friday.

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everyone gets into it, and it’s the best. hands down though, the best part is the relationships that are built here at camp. i love seeing guys, who don’t know each other on sunday when they arrive, leave being best friends. camp just does that. it’s in the dna here.

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so, another week in the books. another week to come. crazy how it all flies by! what a busy, busy, sweet, sweet life.

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week three: “i have two words to say about the rest of the week: i’m in!”

week three was absolutely awesome. as each week passes, i’m realizing more and more how God is answering my prayers to make this a summer where i am challenged in the best ways, while at the same time He blesses me in ways i would never expect.

i was a little disappointed that i didn’t get to be at camp t for week two, especially after seeing some pictures online (check them out here. you can binge on them if you want. that’s how i just spent my last thirty minutes.) i recognized campers that i’d had in years past, and i was disappointed that i hadn’t been able to reconnect with them. but on sunday i return to camp and discovered two things. first, matty was really excited to see me. it was a great reunion. and second, we had three stayovers. which meant that almost a third of last week’s cabin would still be here, so it was almost like i hadn’t missed out!

also all three of them had been in my cabin last summer. so that was basically the best.

i’m sure i’ll be saying this all summer, because chances are i’ll have more opportunities to have previous campers in my cabin again. but there is just nothing so cool as being able to see the ways God has been working in the lives of kids that you’ve invested in. while i stay in touch with a few campers from over the years, the vast majority of these kids i say goodbye to on saturday and don’t get the chance to see where they are in a year. but when God allows me a glimpse into the lives of campers i’ve developed relationships with, it’s encouraging and exciting and makes me praise Him.

that was probably my high of the week, seeing how guys had grown in patience, care for others, and a desire for God. one of the campers told me after devos that he hadn’t before known that he didn’t have to earn God’s approval. but since coming to camp this week, he learned that there’s nothing he can do that will ever make God love him any less. how is it that the Lord has chosen someone like me to deliver such beautiful good news? i certainly don’t deserve it, but i will gladly accept it. praise Jesus!

other highs of the week would include the clinics. i had hip hop, mountaineering, and clay. all of them were the best. i had some of my campers in mountaineering and clay, and it was so much fun.

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a variety of clinics is always the best, because you’re always on your toes and things don’t get boring. i went from choreographing the chorus to “best day of my life” to cheering on a camper who climbed to the top of mount wood to painting facial hair on the campers in clay clinic. all in a couple hours. that’s like the best.

wk3_2we did some pretty awesome things as a cabin this past week too. we went on a mud hike (one of the guys i was sure would back out was in 110%), we visited the minifarm to do the chicken round-up (side note: for some reason i’d always been afraid of chicken round up, mainly because it involved running after them to catch them and i was afraid that somehow i’d manage to lose all of camp’s chickens. but it turned out to be a blast), and we dressed up and went crazy for disco night. we also had one of my favorite unit games ever… prom night! somehow the guys always think it’s the best when they dress me up in pinks and purples and jean jackets and dresses.

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what i love most about camp is the relationships that form. i love looking over at trading post and watching david listen intently as his camper explains chess to him. i love watching milson initiate a heart-to-heart with one of his guys. i love all the little things i get to see as i walk around camp. so much silliness, so much happiness, so much joy. and it’s all so very real.

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i like real.

 

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“we have to go back! we didn’t take pictures of us stuffing our faces!”

so this is an update on the second week, but i didn’t actually spend it at camp tecumseh. instead, i got to be a counselor at edge 2014, which is a middle school summer camp in chattanooga, tennessee. myself, matt, and the other leaders from new life got to go with all the middle schoolers that we’ve been leading for the past year or more. plus, some of the incoming sixth graders joined us! let’s just say it was the best ever.

it was a bit of a shorter week, which meant that after i left camp t on saturday of week 1, i got a whole day to rest before shipping off with matt, jami, jessy, and the kids.  it’s a nine hour drive to chattanooga, so we had plenty of time to sing songs, play the alphabet game, sleep (the kids, not the drivers), and just generally be hyper. it was fantastic and tiring and wonderful. the frozen soundtrack was on repeat, naturally.

edge 2014 took place at covenant college, which rests atop lookout mountain. it was the first time i’d ever been on a mountain, and it was absolutely stunning. like, every evening was a painting. just really gorgeous stuff. when we woke up in the mornings, we couldn’t even see the city below, because it would be covered with a layer of clouds. sunsets and sunrises were absolutely beautiful. and there was so much color all the time. it was the best place to spend a week of camp.

we only spent monday evening through friday morning there, but each of the days was jam packed with stuff to do. on tuesday, our first full day, we had a water extravaganza. you kind of had to be there, but i’ll try to explain. there were watermelons to fight over, pyramids of death to climb (and inevitably fall from, as they were covered in tarps soaked with a copious amount of baby oil), and giant slip-and-slides to race down, all filmed by a flying camera drone (yep). totally awesome. on thursday we drove down to georgia to spend the afternoon at white water, a six flags park. most of my time was spent in the wave pool with some of the guys, playing games involving the inner tubes. most revolved around capsizing each other and claiming victory, only to be taken down a minute later. it was a fantastic day. we also took a couple of hours that week to explore chattanooga, which is a beautiful place. those times were some of my favorites, because we got to just hang out with all the kids, talking and laughing and continuing to build relationships with them, which is what we’ve been doing for the past couple years.

each evening there was a large group meeting, where we’d jam to some music, sing worship songs, and listen as the speaker for the week, jay, opened God’s word for us. he focused on the life of jacob in the old testament, and how the theme of God’s blessing can be found throughout his life. the Spirit really spoke through jay. he talked about how we often seek to earn God’s blessing, when by definition a blessing is something given as a gift. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is the ultimate blessing we have been given. there’s nothing we can do to earn it. a beautiful truth (the gospel truth, in fact), and one that i need to be reminded of daily.

one of the things i most appreciated was that the staff of edge 2014 really took the spiritual well-being of the counselors seriously. every morning before breakfast they had set aside time for us to spend in the word by ourselves, and every evening before the main session there was a leaders’ meeting, where the camp director gave a short message from the word to encourage and fill us. i always came away feeling blessed.

so camp was awesome. there are certainly more things i could say, but i’ll conclude it with this: i am so blown away that the Lord has blessed me and the other leaders with the opportunity to lead and learn with the youth at new life. there are hardly words to describe how blessed i feel to know them, to lead them, and to learn from them. God is so, so good. i am so thankful to have spent a week with everyone, and i’m psyched to be back in muncie after the summer finishes up!

 

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training week: “you’re a poop head!” “that’s a put-down! that’s not allowed!”

well, training week has officially ended. as the staff stood in a circle last evening, saying our goodbyes until sunday, i found myself thinking about what a great summer it had been. we had done so much, made new friends, learned a bunch of new information. time to go back to the real world.

BUT WAIT. summer hasn’t even started! that was just training week! so then i got excited all over again. because this summer is going to be incredible.

a few updates. this summer, i am a blazer! i am beyond excited. my heart will always be with the braves, since that was my first unit, but it’s easy for me to see that being placed in the blazer unit is an answer to many prayers of mine. since this is my fourth summer, it would be super easy to fall into complacency, and just do everything the way i’d always done it in the brave unit. being a blazer is new, fresh, and provides new opportunities to learn and do camp in a new way. plus, there are many things i can do in the blazer unit that weren’t available for braves. i’ll be doing full cookouts, sleeping out all over camp, and participating in new activities that are exclusive to the blazers. i’m pumped to learn from the other counselors, both returning and new, and to experience this new side of camp.

my partner is amazing. his name is matty, and he’s from south africa. already we’ve become friends, and God has blessed our partnership with clear communication and similar ideas and goals for the summer. we’re on the same page with our vision for the cabin culture we want to set (we’re in peoria cabin!), and even after just the few conversations we’ve had about things we want to accomplish, i’m so excited to get into the summer with this guy! i can tell it’s going to be an incredible summer with him and the peoria cabin.

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along with finding out our cabin, unit, and parters, the rest of the past few days have been filled to the brim. we did activity rotations, took float trips, learned about what it looks like to be a well-rounded counselor, had fantastic conversations, and generally had a blast. such is the camp life.

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each of the units had some time together to get to know each other. blazers did some team-building activities, made friendship bracelets for each other, and played a bunch of games. i can tell that this is going to be a close-knit group. we have the perfect balance of returners and new counselors, and becca and jimmy, our coordinators, have been providing some great leadership.

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on our last night, each of the units did a sleep out. we had a bonfire, did a devotion together, and talked about in what areas of our lives we wanted to grow this summer, based on the sagamore creed. i’ve chosen a variety of things over the past three summers, but this summer i chose the responsibility bead. responsibility is simply taking care of the things that are important to you, and this is a summer where i want to focus on others, not myself. it’s something i’m trusting God for, because by myself i’ll do nothing but worry about me. but i think it will be easy to find friends that will hold me accountable to that this summer.

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now it’s the calm before the storm. i’m at the elliot’s house, doing laundry (they’re amazingly hospitable… i always feel so loved here). sophie and ollie are running around. they made a fort and found a turtle (his name is thunder). two more reasons that i’m excited to be here this summer.

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and so it continues. tomorrow the kids are here. that makes me feel incredible and excited and nervous and eager. how is it that God has decided to bless me so abundantly here? i don’t deserve a place like this to work. so, to quote the psalmist, “i will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me” (psalm 13:6). what a great phrase. God has certainly dealt bountifully with me, in more ways than just allowing me to be at camp one more year. but i think He knows how important camp is to me, and so he deals with me especially bountifully in this area. so much to be thankful for.

it’s here, guys. time to love those kids!

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thoughts on home.

sometimes there are a bunch of random things just floating around in my mind, and it takes me a bit to realize that they’re actually not disconnected at all. over the past couple weeks, in different forms and by different means, there’s been something i’ve been thinking about.

home.

what kind of image does that evoke in your heart? because it’s definitely a heart thing for me. what comes most immediately to mind is these beautiful people:

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(especially that one in the top left. wowza.) spring break is coming up in a little over a month for me, and that means i’m missing my family more with each day. the older i get, the more i cherish the relationships the Lord has blessed us with. one of the things we’ve talked about a lot in sunday school is the nature of the Trinity, and how we can experience love from our human relationships as a taste of what love within the Trinitarian relationship looks like, and what God’s love for us feels like.

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isn’t that awesome? God let’s us experience a reflection of His love in the relationships we have with others, and for me, with my family in particular. that’s probably why i so easily associate the idea of home with love.

but if home is where the heart is, then a significant piece of my home is at camp. home is, after all, a place where you are most comfortable, right? it should be, at least. i mean, look at this place.

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home is where you learn about yourself and what it looks like to love people well. camp is like that too. things have started to gear up for this summer already, and it’s insanely exciting and awesome. meeting new counselors (well, creeping on them), praying for God to do incredible things, writing to campers… it’s all so awesome! it makes me so pumped that this summer, even more people will experience camp as home.

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and man, being able to say that i have a home with these guys?

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awesome. the past two weeks i was house-sitting for someone and actually lived at their house the whole time. and while it was nice to have a place that felt kind of like my own for a bit, i missed these men terribly. the night i returned, we had our monthly house hangout night. we caught up on life and played games and it was awesome. God has provided home here, among my brothers in Christ. we went around the table and shared what our plans were for next year, Lord willing.

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it brought a smile to my face and an ache to my heart, knowing that God has some incredible plans for us, but that we’ll be going our separate ways. a few of us will be staying in muncie, and while there will certainly be more opportunities for fellowship together, things will still be different. and that’s okay, that’s how life works. just makes right now, being home with these guys, even more important.

underlying all of these thoughts of home has been the memory verses for action group:

“but our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly bodies to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself.”
>> philippians 3:20-21

isn’t that such a sweet reminder? our citizenship, our home, is in heaven. no wonder we’re called to set our minds on the things above (col. 3:2)… that’s where we belong! and these old, tired, sinful bodies will be made new, perfect. that is a wonderful thing. what a homecoming.

as beautiful as all these glimpses of home are, we were created for a different, complete kind, and it’s one we will be able to experience with our Savior. if home is where the heart is, and my heart was buried and is raised with Christ, then i can’t wait to get home.

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